Labor and Economic Opportunity
The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons Business Enterprise Program (BEP) is looking for five to 10 energetic, customer-oriented blind people per year who wish to enter a career with an average income of approximately $35,000, with the possibility of earning up to $100,000 or more. Bureau staff, with the active participation of the Elected Operators Committee, have established program entrance requirements and identified the application process. Following is a brief list of steps that will lead to a successful placement of a blind person in an interesting and challenging career.
The process begins as the Bureau's vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor familiarizes himself or herself with the BEP career. A BEP career is a small business dealing in retail food, beverage, and snack items either sold directly to customers via a manual (counter sales) operation or through automated vending machines. Aptitudes for this business include mechanical, mathematics, human relations, and organizational skills. It must be clear to the applicant that a career in this field is a complex occupation requiring the combination of patience, human relations, business acumen, interest, insight and desire.
The VR counselor calls the BEP trainer. In this call, the BEP trainer collects the initial intake information on the VR customer, and explains to the counselor the prerequisites the person must possess.
The information collected from the VR counselor during this initial conversation includes the customer's name, address, phone number, social security number, whether the applicant is over 18 years of age, years the customer has been blind, the skills of blindness the customer possesses, and whether the counselor has observed the customer using these skills effectively. The trainer will also ask the counselor if this person would be a good candidate for the BEP, and whether the person is willing to relocate or would rather work for other BEP operators in the local area. If the BEP trainer and counselor determine that the customer is not ready, the evaluation process can stop at this point.
The trainer advises the VR counselor of the costs that will be incurred for the customer to participate in the vending stand training (VST). Such costs may include: appropriate business attire, note-taking materials, talking calculator and transportation, food and lodging for trainees during the VST and the on-the-job experience (OJE). The VR counselor ensures that the customer is entered onto the MAIN system in order to facilitate any payments to the customer.
The BEP trainer e-mails to the counselor a list of local operators interested in offering job-shadow experience to VR customers, and a BEP student packet. The contents of the packet include: a welcome memo from the BEP administrator describing the packet, the BEP assessment, VST entry requirements (i.e., equipment needed), BSBP Training Center guidelines, BEP training contract, VST syllabus, and information about the required business math class.
The counselor has received a copy of the BEP assessment for reference and to explain the training program requirements to the customer. Although the assessment reviews many skills, it is very important that the potential student have basic computer literacy skills to successfully complete the assessment. Also, all applicants to the VST must pass a security clearance. Any legal involvement should be reviewed at this point to determine if the applicant would be able to pass a security clearance for entry into secure federal and state facilities.
ACCEPTANCE FOR VENDING STAND TRAINING